UPDATE 1-Britvic to step-up Fruit Shoot roll-out as sales rise

Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:58am EST

* Q1 revenue up 4.8 pct to 303.2 mln stg

* To accelerate distribution of Fruit Shoot in U.S. and Spain

* Expected effective date of merger with A.G. Barr Feb. 26

* Q2 has started slowly

LONDON, Jan 23 (Reuters) - British soft drinks maker Britvic posted a 4.8 percent rise in first quarter revenue and said it would accelerate distribution of its troubled Fruit Shoot drink in the United States and also launch it in Spain this year.

Britvic, whose 2011/12 profit was hit by a costly recall of its Fruit Shoot children's drink over faulty caps, did however warn that its second quarter had started more slowly due to a challenging economic and trading environment.

The firm, which is awaiting approval from the Office of Fair Trading on its merger with Irn-Bru maker A.G. Barr, said on Wednesday strong growth at its British carbonated drinks arm had helped drive revenue up 4.8 percent to 303.2 million pounds ($481.10 million).

Britivic, which makes and sells PepsiCo brands such as Pepsi and 7UP in Britain and Ireland, said it had reached an agreement with PepsiCo to accelerate distribution of Fruit Shoot from nine to a total of 30 U.S. states by the summer.

It said it had also sealed a deal to distribute it across Spain from early 2013 and that production levels of the drink were now back to previous historic levels.

Britivic said the expected effective date of its merger with A.G. Barr, which will create one of Europe's biggest soft drinks companies, would be Feb. 26.

In November, Britvic posted a 19 percent fall in full-year pretax profit, while Barr said in December its revenue for the 18 weeks to Dec. 1 had risen 9.0 percent.

Shares in Britvic closed at 428.3 pence on Tuesday, up 44 percent on six months ago, valuing the business at around 1 billion pounds.